Woodlake needs $3.7M to bring airport up to minimal FAA standards


By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

WOODLAKE – The City of Woodlake needs to clean up just one more fund to bring the entire City budget into the black, but it doesn’t appear as if that is going to happen any time soon. At last week’s Sept. 11 City Council meeting, Woodlake staff discussed with the council the state of the Woodlake Airport.

After receiving a planning grant to contract with Wadell Engineering, the City learned that it would need $3,729,107 to bring the airport to minimal Federal Aviation Agency standards. Overall the City would have to repave the runway and much of the infrastructure while adding fencing and lights that it does not currently have.

In order to fund the repairs Woodlake would have to apply for an FAA grant, and according to city manager Ramon Lara there is no guarantee that the City  even qualifies for the grant, so as a contingency he said they are looking at all of their options.

If the City qualified for the grant they would need $1.38 million in 2018, $531,360 in 2019 and $1.8 million in 2020. Unfortunately the grant does not come without a cost. In order to receive the grant Woodlake would have to match the amount by $185,000 to $372,000 which would drive the airport fund even deeper into the red. More importantly the City would also have to agree to operating the airport for the next 20 years. And revenue streams for the airport are hard to increase.

Lara said that revenue from the airport comes from hangar rentals between $65 and $115 per month and rent from the Runway Café. The only way to generate additional revenue would be raise the rental prices per month or perhaps rezone the property entirely.

By looking at all the options available there is a chance that the airport may no longer be an airport in coming decades. It may be rezoned to a number of different uses like parks, light industrial, etc.

In Other News

The City is facing possible litigation over an unpaid loan from the City to the Woodlake Cemetery District. The 2011 loan was $74,000 and payments were intended to be made twice a year for 10 years at two percent interest. As of now the District has only made one payment in three years, with their last payment having been made in May of 2016.

The last payment before that was June of 2014, and they currently have an outstanding balance of $54,298.

City manager Lara said that they are currently trying to figure out how to move forward.

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